Column: Be open-minded to adopting an ‘underdog’

Cat, dog, and guinea pig

(Left) Ray Palmer is one of the 38 cats Pasadena Humane rescued from a cramped trailer earlier this summer. (Middle) Five-year-old Poseidon is the best boy. He loves to play, go on hikes and snuggle. (Right) Toffee is your typical friendly guinea pig. He communicates through a variety of sounds and squeaks, all of which can mean something different.

At Pasadena Humane over the past year, more than 3,000 pets have been adopted into wonderful new homes.

We are fortunate to have a robust adoption program. Yet, at our shelter and those around the country, some pets take longer to be adopted than others. We call these “long-stay” animals.

You might think that senior pets or black cats are the most difficult to place. But, at Pasadena Humane, that is not the case.

We find that large breed dogs have the hardest time finding new homes, particularly rambunctious adolescents and dogs who are middle aged.

Housing restrictions are one barrier. Leases often prohibit larger dogs and certain breeds. When housing will allow bigger dogs, some busy lifestyles cannot accommodate dogs who need extra enrichment and activity to keep them happy.

Under-socialized felines — such as cats who come to us from hoarding situations — stay at the shelter longer than more friendly cats and kittens. Also, critters such as bunnies, guinea pigs and hamsters, are often not even considered for adoption, even though they are perfect pets for some homes.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that research has found that a pet’s appearance is the most important factor in dog adoptions and one of the top two factors in cat adoptions (second to behavior with people).

I encourage you to put looks aside and give an underdog, cat or critter a chance. Plenty of awesome pets in all colors, shapes and sizes are overlooked every day.

We have a staff task force dedicated to helping long-stay pets find homes as soon as possible. One of our strategies during our busy summer season is to have periodic free adoption days.

This Saturday, September 16, we are holding our final Free Adoption Day of the year. Please come out and adopt a pet, especially a long-stay one.

With that in mind, allow me to introduce you to three of our long-stay pets who need a home:

Poseidon: Simply put, the 5-year-old is the best boy. This gray pit bull mix has been in our care since April and hopes to find a home soon. Poseidon has recently been out on a few foster field trips and received top marks. He enjoys car rides and snuggling and is very well-behaved on hikes. He loves to play (and destroy!) tennis balls and roll in the grass. While he doesn’t react to other animals on a leash, our staff think Poseidon may prefer to be the only pet in your home.

Ray Palmer: One of the 38 cats we rescued from a cramped trailer earlier this summer, Ray Palmer needs a patient adopter who can give him the time and space to adjust to a safe and loving home. While in our care, Ray’s personality has started to blossom and hopefully, lessen the memories of his previous living conditions. He has become more trusting with our staff and volunteers. We know he will make an excellent pet for the right family.

Toffee: Your typical friendly guinea pig, Toffee was abandoned at a pet store in Glendale in the heat of summer along with four other guinea pigs. Guinea pigs like Toffee will purr contently in your lap and communicate through a variety of sounds and squeaks, all of which can mean something different.

Poseidon, Ray Palmer, Toffee, and many other pets in need of homes are waiting to meet you at our “Free Adoption Day,” 10 a.m.-2 p.m. September 16 at 361 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena.

View adoptable animals at


Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on September 15, 2023.